Almost all of us have a PC in our house. Most of them are desktop PCs or notebooks, but a new kind of PCs is starting to spread: tablets. Tablets are PCs in which the input is not given by a keyboard or a mouse, but by a pen or fingers. They are especially useful for people who need to use their computer everywhere, because they are lightweight and compact.
The early draft of a tablet dates back to 1888 with the telautograph. The telautograph can be considered the precursor of the modern fax and consisted in a pen connected by two strings to a mechanism that transformed the movement of the pen in electrical impulses which could be transmitted to the addressee of the message.
During the 20th century many devices with characteristics similar to the tablet have been ideated. Worth mentioning is the Dynabook (1968), which remained just a prototype and was aimed at children.
The first tablet as we know them now was produced for the first time by Microsoft in 2000 and had Windows XP as its operating system. It was intended for business use, but it was not successful because it cost too much and its interface (or UI, i.e. User Interface: all the windows, buttons, icons and various elements that appear on the screen) was uncomfortable to use.
In 2010 Apple launched the first iPad: it was immediately a great success, with 300.000 units sold just in the first day, and 25 million units sold up to June 2011. Big part of its success was due to a huge media campaign, but its relatively low cost, neat design, media-oriented use and simple interface (that was not based on a desktop PC, but on a phone, the iPhone) played an important role, too.
Now tablets come in many shapes and sizes, with different operating systems (Android, iOS, …) and various costs.
What should we expect from the future? It seems that the two ‘worlds’ of desktop and tablets are going to merge.
For example, Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 8 will have a new interface called Metro that involves big ‘tiles’ and touch gestures, while the traditional desktop coexists as an application.
Another example could be the Linux interface GNOME 3, that features big icons and buttons, which are easier to use when you have to use your fingertips on a touchscreen.
Lastly, Apple’s new operating system OS X Mountain Lion will have new functions inspired by the iPad, like the Launchpad (already present in the last version of OS X), and the Notification Center.
To sum up, the traditional concept of computer seems to be changing.
Do you think that the tablet will be the new computer that could eventually substitute desktop PCs?
Leave your opinion in the comments below 😉